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Honda’s More Powerful Fuel Cell Concept with Home Hydrogen Refueling

19 October 2005

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FCX Concept with the Home Energy System for refueling. Click to enlarge.

Honda’s new FCX fuel cell concept vehicle, unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show, is a stylish sedan featuring a redesigned fuel cell system that delivers more power and increased range in less space than the current FCX 2005 model on the road, and a low-floor design that maximizes cabin space.

Enabling the low-floor design is Honda’s new “3V” system: vertical gas flow, vertebral layout, and volume-efficient packaging.

Fcxvunder
The V-Flow system. Vertical gas flow, vertebral layout, volume-efficient. Note the cutaway of the rear wheel showing the in-wheel motor. Click to enlarge.

In the 3V schema, oxygen and hydrogen flow from the top to the bottom of the fuel cell stack (vertical gas flow) and the fuel cells are arranged vertically in the center tunnel (vertebral layout) for new, high-efficiency fuel cell packaging (volume efficiency).

Compact enough to fit neatly into the center tunnel but robust enough to deliver 100kW of power, the V Flow fuel cell stack offers both space efficiency and high energy output. The key to fuel cell performance is water management. With vertical gas flow, an innovative process in which oxygen and hydrogen flow downward through the stack, Honda’s new fuel cell stack takes full advantage of gravity to efficiently discharge water formed during electricity generation.

By contrast, the FC stack in the FCX 2005 offers a maximum of 86 kW. (Earlier post.)

This improves system performance in sub-zero temperatures, achieving a new level of system reliability. The problem of cold-weather startup had been a key obstacle to the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles. In 2003, Honda solved the problem with the introduction of the Honda FC Stack, the world’s first fuel cell that can be used at temperatures as low as –20° C. The V Flow fuel cell stack, on the other hand, now delivers ultra-low-temperature start-up performance on par with that of a gasoline engine.

Fcxviwm
The 25-kW in-wheel motor

The FCX-V Concept drive train features three energy-efficient motors: one in the front and two in the rear. The efficient delivery of this power through all four wheels and the low-center-of-gravity platform combine to deliver torquey performance and agile handling. The space-efficient layout also contributes to the interior efficiency of the low-floor design, eliminating the need to use floor space for motors.

  • Coaxial motor and gearbox. The 80-kW front-drive motor output shaft is coaxial with the gearbox for a more compact package and a shorter front-end.

  • Rear in-wheel motors. Each of the rear wheels contains a thin, eccentric 25-kW motor.

To increase the driving range, Honda engineers chose not to increase storage tank pressure, but to use a newly-developed hydrogen absorption material that doubles the capacity of the tank to 5 kg of hydrogen at 350 atmospheres. With the new material, the tanks supply enough hydrogen to extend the cruising range to 560 kilometers (350 miles)—exceeding the DOE’s range target for 2010.

Again, by contrast, the current FCX 2005 model offers a range of 190 miles.

Fcxvhes
HES System

Honda also unveiled its current model of the Home Energy Station (HES), a home cogeneration and fueling system that uses natural gas to supply electricity and heat in addition to hydrogen fuel for vehicles.

The system is equipped with fuel cells that generate electricity (5 kW) for the home, and is configured to recover the heat produced during power generation for domestic water heating. The HES can produce 3 Nm3/hr of hydrogen. In addition to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by some 40%, according to Honda’s calculations, the HES system is expected to lower by 50% the total running cost of household electricity, gas and vehicle fuel.

October 19, 2005 in Fuel Cells, Hydrogen | Permalink | Comments (151) | TrackBack (1)

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Comments

There was a recent discovery of a solid pellet material that could be used to store hydrogen uncompressed in densities great enough to allow distances to be travelled that exceed gasoline engines. The name of the stuff escapes me.

Hydrogen produced through electrolysis where the electricity came from a renewable source may be inefficient, but we have nothing better. We need hydrogen to store such energy precisely because we lack the light-weight, long lasting, and high capacity battery technology needed for purely electric vehicles. Besides, the vehicle parts for both vehicles are similar except for the substitution of H, 02, and fuel cells instead of a battery. This means that development on either will further the other. Batteries add all kinds of dangerous chemicals that need to be disposed of into the mix.

If you are worried about the inefficiencies of electrolysis, then you better go outside and catch all the wasted sunshine hitting your lawn. Because that is all you will be wasting is a bit of either that or some breeze.

As far as electrolysis operating costs? Electrodes, water, pumps, tanks, and windmills or solar cells. I'm not convinced those things would cost more than having oil drilled, shipped, refined, shipped, and sold. This would be especially true if such systems were mass produced.

If you are afraid of high pressure gas, don't be. My girlfriend drives a contour that can run on natural gas. That stuff has to be pressurized something wicked to fill the tank. Also, those tanks are reinforced hardcore and that's why they can't make them bigger to accommodate even more H2. I remember mercedes was doing crash testing on H2 vehicles several years ago saying they performed more safely than gasoline vehicles in crashes over 55mph.

I'm sick of people spouting words of nay on forums about inevitable new technology. H2 is not something that can be kept in the hands of few luckily. Once the cars are produced, home filling stations will come. Those stations will likely be natural gas based at first. However, I would expect that individuals and private organizations will produce their own electrolysis stations for purchase. If oil companies had half a brain, they would begin converting fueling stations for the inevitable by creating renewable hydrogen refueling. I know shell did this in some place already ( greenland or iceland?). That way, they could still maintain some control and profit in the fuel market. Without their normal drilling, shipping, and refining costs, they could clean up with much higher profit at the pump and lower costs to the consumer. The oil companies would then own nothing but the non-exclusive means to produce H2 and the stations containing these means. I would buy their hydrogen if they did this for less than the cost and hassle of my building and using my own such system.

Even with all the expensive and impressive advances in hydrogen storage technology, it still doesn't come anywhere NEAR the energy density of hydrocarbons. And it's still way more difficult and different to use (recharge).

I don't understand why we're putting all these resources into this hydrogen research - it's not a good energy carrier at the temperatures we live in.

The great announcement of a 350 mile range with hydrogen doesn't sound as good when you realize that most of it is because the car is designed to be highly energy efficient, and an efficient hydrocarbon-powered vehicle of similar design would get more than a 1000 mile range on a tank.

The main problem with hydrocarbons is not in being an energy carrier, but an energy source. We need to get away from fossil fuels because they release extra CO2 into the atmosphere that was safely sequestered away in the earth. Solar or other production of hydrocarbon fuel would suck just as much CO2 out of the atmosphere as burning the fuel would produce, so it wouldn't be a global warming problem. Heck, we could even sequester extra CO2 out of the atmosphere and hedge against energy costs by putting hydrocarbons made that way back into the earth as strategic petroleum reserves.

Best of all, we keep all our same fueling and vehicle infrastructure without having to invest tons more into replacing all of it. But we also can take advantages of new and more efficient technologies (there are fuel cells that can run on hydrocarbons, biodiesel engines are much more efficient than gasoline ones, hybrid technology would work well).

Hydrogen just doesn't make sense.

Here's a great study in replacing ALL of the US's fossil fuel use with biodiesel from saltwater/wastewater algae using 12% of the land in the Sonora desert (CA/AZ border) for start-up costs of about what we spent on the Iraq War and operating costs of less than 1/3rd of what we spend just on imports of petroleum into the country. The technology is proven, too - it's been around since the late 1970's.

http://www.unh.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html

"Two 350 PSI hydrogen tanks - I'm not looking forward to any crashes this thing has."

Crashes in Hydrogen powered vehicals are much less severe because hydrogen is such a light element that instantly it dissapates. Petrol is heavy and stay on the ground, therefore making it much more dangerous. Tests have proven this many times.

Nuclear energy is a dinosaur. Kiss it goodbye, it's doomed. Not by the environmentalists, not by the nimbys, not by the non-proliferation fearmongers (although they all have a point). It's doomed by the hard-core capitalists who run this country. It's just way, way too expensive. That's the foremost reason why not a single nuclear plant has been built in this country in 30 years, despite healthy subsidies to the industry. Believe me, if they could make money at it, they would build it.

Download a free copy of Avery Lovins' book "Winning the Oil Endgame" (http://www.oilendgame.com/). It'll change your thinking on nuclear energy forever.

I used to despise fuel cells because I am setting up to become a diesel technician so I thought I'd be out of a job, but I believe that eventually fuel cells (with more power and torque of course) may be put into semis and other classes of diesels and replace its I.C.E.

Does anyone else think this will happen or will semis use hydrogen-fired internal combustion engines? Of course this still creates C02, but at a far less amount, and no NOX or other byproducts. Interested in any opinions.

Another quick thing, if anyone has any links to pictures and specifications on fuel cell or hydrogen-powered semis or other classes, please e-mail me or post.

Greasemonkey: hydrogen internal combustion powertrains are, and foreseeably will remain, loads better than hydrogen-air fuel-cell-electric ones. But they won't be as good as diesel, and a nuclear power station can make diesel fuel about as easily as it can make hydrogen.

The two pathways share a first step: make hydrogen. Then, in the straight-hydrogen approach, one must do something to the hydrogen to make it transportable. Liquefaction at very low temperature has been the only practical way to date.

In the nuclear-generated-gasoline approach, one gets CO2 from somewhere and reacts the hydrogen with it, producing water and hydrocarbon. Thus, one packages one's hydrogen for shipping by tying it to carbon. The buyer gets it in a much more compact form, plus he gets to burn the carbon.


--- Graham Cowan, former hydrogen fan
boron as energy carrier: real-car range, nuclear cachet

Wow, there is a lot of narrow minded people on this list. I love the following comments:

"Hydrogen will NEVER be a successful fuel"

"There are no breakthroughs coming in H2 production"

Two 350psi H2 tanks - I'm not looking forward to crashes with these."

Where to start? I like how the 1st guy emphasized "NEVER". That's a pretty long time. But I am sure when most of the oil is done (in many many years) that he may reconsider.

"No breakthoughs". Ah yeah, not even going to comment on this one. Since there are no breakthroughs we should just give up then.

And the final comment about the "two 350psi H2 tanks". Interesting comment as hydrogen cars have a lower probability of blowing up then gasoline cars. (Leaking H2 floats up, gasoline pools). This has been proven many times - you might want to read up on it. Also, the 350psi tanks are so well built, them exploding should be your least concern. Automakers have shown that a car with a 5000psi tank went through over 50 simulated crashes and guess what? The car and test dummies were damaged beyond belief, the tank was still in intact.

People should know the facts before they make comments.

I've driven a few fuel cell cars and they are great. True, they are nowhere near feasible enough to compete with internal combustion cars, but huge strides have been made. There are cars on the street. Advancements are made every day, and we are headinf in the right direction.

Remember that fuel cell cars are competing with internal combustion cars that have been around for 100 years.

Cheers.

80

Is it the big oil companies, or the arab countries that control the resources that is our enemy, hhmm? Are they on the same team, I suppose? Oh I thought it was the Jews who control the world by owning the banks. oh wait, its george bush and his 'evil cabal' who are going to enslave humanity so they can profiteer thru making weapons and perpetual war.

You corp-hating anti-capitalist weenies love to blame GW bush and his oil croanies, or scary large corporations on the world's problems. Oh, the solution is there, but THEY wont let us have it... so they can enslave humanity... I see. Whats the purpose for enslaving us consuming ants exactly?... help me out here. oh! I guess I am brain washed by Fox news. Just a dim-witted 'ant' told to consume consume... MMmmm hungry now.

Don't forget, we had horse driven carriages 100 years ago. Now awe have frikken space ships with laser beams. In another hundred years god knows what tech advances we'll have and all you conspiracy bafoons will be long forgotten. Instead of doomsday or an enslaved humanity, earth will still be here, humanity will continue to evolve and explore, and videogames will be so cool, you'll sh*t your pants.

the 'energy economy' is complicated and ties in with Earth's own enrgy cycles, & recources. Do you think hydrogen, or anything else will have NO SIDE EFFECTS? Everything does. When we discover hydrogen is poisoning the moon or whatever, we phase out hydrogen and move on to something else when it's invented. We adapt.
bottom line, honda is cool for putting so much into R&D as are the other evil corporations so many of you fear.

I'm done rambling now :) I think i'll go grab the metro and see wherre it takes me.

I just wanted to point out that the article says the tanks are 350 atm which is about 5000 psi.

**** I want one !!!! This would be great sporting our company signage here in Byron Bay

Well, a hydrogen economy being green is not quite correct. Escaped hydrogen is damaging to the ozone layer. Also the gas one person said they worried about delivery to the home, is not gas-o-line but methane (aka natural gas). Good ol' CH4. The conversion to hydrogen and the subsequent heat generation used for the house hot water system, and also the use to power the house seems pretty reasonable. We already have large gas turbine power generation facilities. A home based conversion lacks the economics of scale, but avoids distribution problems.

Oh, and wind power is not so eco friendly. It destroys bird populations. The most eco friendly power generation source is actually good old fission based nuclear power plants. Less radioactive release into the environment and less health risk to workers and the community from mining to end of life of the plant than a typical coal driven power plant. (burning coal releases radioactive material into the environment. Not to mention helping acid rain. The primary eco impact from a nuclear plant is waste heat. If we reused it in a meaningful way, a tough engineering problem, they'd be even "greener") The reason no new nukes (though one is possibly coming soon to Florida!) have been built is cost, for sure, but not operating cost. It is planning cost. The paperwork alone is hugely expensive, and the "green" anti-nuke lobby has caused there to be excessive paperwork, redundant at the federal and state level. Pebble bed reactors are a modern design, yet to be implimented in the US that are even safer. The release from the three mile island "event" raised the local background radiation, temporarily, less than a visit to a granite basement in New England or a monument in Washington, DC. Really, folks. Nuke plants are safe if built and operated correctly. And ultimately cheaper. That is why the military uses them for carriers. carriers are already huge fuel tanks for the aircraft, the ships use would not be much worse. They have to meet tenders or dock to load supplies for the aircraft already, so nuclear reactors are just an efficiency.

Cool for Honda. I wanted one of the GE home fuel cells but applied for the pilot program too late. Maybe Honda will make things so I still can win.

Nice concept car with promising performance and range.

I can see part of the puzzle solved here, its a concept car anywayz. This is a important step toward breakthru. With each concept car out we developed solutions to part of a main puzzle.

We cant solve all problems in once, we can only do it bit by bit. Before we learn how to walk we cannot run. The foundation, is very important.

I dont see investment in hydrogen car as a waste. I only see that investment in war and weapon is waste of money and blood and pure stupidity.

Hydrogen powered corvett? A pure waste, enough said.

Peace and Energy to the world.

What's that thing between the front wheels? The article says there's a coaxial motor and gearbox powering the front wheels, but it looks suspiciously like an internal combustion engine! Why not have four in-wheel electric motors?

Re: That incredibly beautiful Honda concept car:

Damn...I gotta get me one of these...!

No breakthroughs in hydrogen technology at all... Bah... How does direct solar electrolysis using seeded bucky ball catalysts sound...

"Don't forget, we had horse driven carriages 100 years ago. Now awe have frikken space ships with laser beams."

I don't know about YOU, but _I_ sure don't have a space ship with laser beams. I'm sure THEY do, built with OUR money.

Ahh..If only we could cut ourselves checks out of thin air for billions like they do... then maybe I WOULD have a spaceship with laser beams just like you.

How about nuclear fusion ? We'll talk about after ten years ..

Think you all are too frightened, and not adaptable at all, too rigid.

RMWB, you pick THAT sentence to argue some kind of point? When I say "frikken laser beams", it means I am, at that moment in my ranting, just joking around. You know what

ok, maybe you dont, let me correct that:

"100 years ago we had horse driven carriages, today we have fuel efficient hybrids..."

there ya go, buddy. All better.

obviously you still feel threatened by the evilness of the big gov and corporations who want to make money off our misery.(thats a nice business model, yes?)

c'mon, maybe - JUST MAYBE - those wacky conspiracy theories are wrong. What then? wont you feel like a weeny? If we all get enslaved by Bushitler and his Haliburton-Enron storm troopers, we'll all kick ourselves for not seeing it coming. Had only we listened!

anyhow, it would be nice to keep out the scary oil company crap and stick to the interesting issues such as energy used to extract more energy, pros and cons of emerging technologies, etc. yes?

OK, I have to admit I didn't read all of the posts; most but not all. So I may be repeating what some other brilliant mind already knows and has posted.
First, concerning fuel cells. Not all fuel cells use platinum. Akaline fuel cells do not. If you're interested you may go to www.astris.ca to check out a company that has decided to follow NASA's example.
Second, there is a company that builds hydrogen powered ICE generators. Their website is: www.hydrogenenginecenter.com
Third. A company located @ www.fuelmaker.com has a home refueling appliance called Phill. It hangs on a garage wall that can refuel a pressure tank overnight. In this case it uses natural gas. You'll notice the car in the garage is a Honda. (Honda owns a part of Fuel Maker Corp.)
Last, and I did save the best for last. The "manufacture" of hydrogen can be cheap and non-polluting. A Canadian company called Alternate Energy (www.cleanwatts.com) has the solution to providing hydrogen without the use of electricity or natural gas. When you go to the website click on "Watch Hydrogen Unit Demo Video" and you will see. (That is, your eyes will be opened) Also, there is another website @ www.spiritofmaat.com/archive/watercar/h2ocar2.htm that also demonstrates that hydrogen can be released from water without electrcity. I don't know for sure but it appears that the demo on the spirit of maat website is the same process as the one at cleanwatts.com.
In summary, if you take the process developed by AEC and combine it with Fuel Maker's Phill then home refueling of fuel cell cars is possible and affordable. Beyond that, these two companies could do the same for gas stations across the nation at a reasonable cost. Since it is infrastructure costs that I believe is retarding the implementation of the hydrogen economy/highway just getting past this stumbling block will quicken the pace towards a final design - Whatever form that may take ie. Honda, Toyota, GM, etc.
However, pressurizing a tank in my opinion is not the way to go. Since AEC can generate hydrogen at will w/o the need for a power source and has demonstrated that the purity of the hydrogen is good enough to run a fuel cell (albeit a small one - Astris energy's golf cart) I contend that the solution is a small tank of water (insulated from freezing temp.)onboard in a closed system that provides the hydrogen from water in the tank and then captures the water after the two gases are combined in the fuel cell to return to the tank. If this is possible many of the problems associated with fuel cell cars disappears.

No matter how viable any of these alternatives are we'll not see them as long as the oil companies own our government.

Out of 10/20/2005 Slashdot.

That's it. You're just giving up based upon your construct of reality. Tell me you're not adding to the wealth and power of the oil companies by not purchasing petroleum products of any kind and you have my respect.

Back to the car for a second. Whats amazing is that its taking 80-100 years to develop electric motors in wheel hubs. Seems as the simplest of ideas. Ferdinand Porsche dabbled with this idea in a delivery truck or bus in the early part of the last century.

Actually, from a Global Warming perspective, making hydrogen from natural gas (or even renewable sources like ethanol, etc.) does make sense -- if you contain/trap the carbon when you do so.
That is far better than spewing the carbon into the atmosphere.
Not to mention the improved safety of hydrogen versus gasoline in the event of, say, a car crash.

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